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the whole creation* must mean rational creatures only; of which there is not the least evidence. But that this is not the meaning, is very manifest. This word, which is used four times in these verses, is found in fifteen other places, and does not appear to mean rational creatures only, except in two places. (Mark xvi. 15. Col. i. 23.) It is used twice in the first chapter of this epistle, (verse 20-25,) where it means the vis, ible creation and creatures in general, as it also does in the 39ta verse of this chapter; and that by the creation, in this passage, is meant, not man, but the visible, material creation, and the various inferior creatures, subjected to man and abused by him, is evident: 1. Because the creature is said to be made subject to vanity, pot willingly; which cannot be true of those who are voluntary servants of sin, which all men are, except those who are the sons of God. 2. The creature or creation is here distinguished from the sons of God, (verse 19–23,) so that neither the wicked nor the children of God are here intended by the creation.
The apostle is in this passage representing the certainty and greatness of the glory which shall take place in behalf of the church of Christ, which he had mentioned in the preceding verse, as the consequence of their present sufferings. This he does, by first bringing into view the church's deliverance from the power of evil and wicked men, in the latter days, when “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, and they shall reign with Christ on earth.” In order to exhibit the certainty and greatness of this event, he, by a figure often used in Scripture, represents the whole creation as unwillingly subjected to bondage in the service of wickedness, and groaning under this calamity, and earnestly desiring and expecting deliverance; which will take place in this happy state of the church, when the creation shall be delivered out of the hands of the wicked, and consecrated and improved by saints, to the glory of God and happiness of his children. Thus he makes the visible creation, now subjected to vanity, and in bondage to Satan and wicked men, to groan, and speak a language which is a sure and standing evidence and pledge of the future glory of the church in this world; and then in the 23d verse he passes from this deliverance and glory of the children of God to the yet higher and complete glory of the church at the general resurrection, when the children of God shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom
It is the same word in the original; and the passage would be more intelligible, perhaps, to the English reader, had it been translated the creation, in each clause of the text.
of their Father; for which complete redemption, not the whole creation, but believers, wait and long, in this state of suffering and sin, with eager expectation.*
In this view, the connection of these verses with the preceding is plain and natural, and the gradation observed, clear and beautiful. Here is not a word in favor of universal salvation; but the whole is perfectly consistent with what this apostle asserts in this chapter, and the next, and elsewhere, viz., that they who live after the flesh shall die; and that God, willing to show his wrath, and make his power known, endureth with much long suffering these vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, etc.
“ That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him." (Epb. i. 10.) “ And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (Col. i. 20.) These words have been produced by some, as containing the doctrine of universal salvation; as all things, which are in heaven and on earth, are here said to be gathered together in one, and to be reconciled unto God by Christ, which, they say, certainly comprehend all men.
Ans. 1. By gathering together in one all things in Christ - or, as it might be rendered, gathering all things together under one head - is doubtless meant setting Christ at the head of all things in heaven and earth, — i. e., on the throne of the universe, having the government and direction of all things put into his hands, - or, as he himself expresseth it: * All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. xxviii. 18.) “ All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” (Matt. xi. 27.) The whole created universe, which is expressed by heaven and earth and the things therein, fell into a dissolved and broken state, in a sense, by the introduction of sin. Christ is appointed to bear up the pillars of it, to prevent any evil coming by sin on the whole, and to bring the greatest good out of it by the redemption of the church, and its attendants and consequences; and that he may effect this, all things are put into his hands, and he is made the head of all. This is expressed by the apostle in the same chapter (verse 22) in different words, which serve to explain these under consideration : “ And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church." To gather together all things under one head, and to constitute Christ head over all things, is the same thing. But this does not imply the savation of all things, or of all men, nor has any
* When it is said, verse 21, “The creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God," the meaning is, that the visible creation which is now abused to answer the purposes of the enemies of God shall be delivered from this bondage, in itself so undesirable, in the deliverance and glorious liberty and triumph of the church, in the latter days, and for the sake of the children of God. The word here translated into is, many times in this epistle, and in other places, translated in, for, to, and unto.
relation to it. 2. The other“ passage, in the Epistle to the Colossians, doubtless means much the same thing with this, and they are to be considered as parallel texts. Whoever reads these two epistles with attention, — written by St. Paul, and most probably about the same time, and compares them together, will find that much the same matter is contained in them, and often expressed in the same words, with but little variation. The only difference in the words of these two parallel places is, that in the former, all things in heaven and earth are said to be gathered together in one in Christ; in the latter, the same things are said to be reconciled by him. When all things in the created universe - which had, in a measure, fallen into confusion, and jarring contradictions, and discord, by rebellion — were put under Christ to be formed into one harmonious system, — bringing good out of all the evil, and causing every thing to conspire to bring the greatest honor to God, and issue in the highest good of the whole, — all things in heaven and earth were, in the most important and highest sense, reconciled to God in him; and this is the same with gathering all things together in one, by or in Christ. Thus these passages appear to harmonize, and express one and the same thing. How can all things, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven,- by which more are comprehended than angels, and men, and all rational creatures, — be reconciled, in any other sense ? These words, therefore, make nothing against endless punishment, but are in favor of it, and necessarily imply it, if this be most for the honor of God and the general good, and necessary, that all things may be put in due order and the most perfect harmony; which will be considered in a following section. Some have thought the
words of St. Paul (1 Cor. xv. 22) assert the salvation of all men: “ For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." But this must certainly be owing to want of proper attention to this chapter in general, and to the words which immediately precede and follow these. The apostle is here speaking of the resurrection of the body — of the resurrection of Christ, and of those who
belong to him; and not a word is here said of the resurrection of any other person but those whom Christ repeatedly prom, ises to raise up at the last day, viz., those who in this life believe on him. “ And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John vi. 40.) It is certain from Scripture that there shall be a resurrection of the wicked; but this is not brought into view by the apostle in this chapter, but he attends wholly to the resurrection of Christ and his people, that is, the resur. rection of the body. The words with which these are con, nected make this sufficiently evident. “For since by man came death, by man came 'also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." By death and dying is meant the death of the body; and by " resurrection," and “ being made alive,” is meant the resurrection of the body, and that only of the saints.
The word “all” is, therefore, necessarily restrained here to all that belong to Christ. When it is said, In Adam all die, it means all that are in Adam - all his posterity; and when it is said, In Christ all shall be made alive, it means all that are in Christ; so that the latter "all” is not of equal extent with the former. The apostle expresseth himself here just as he does when speaking of Adam and Christ in that passage which has been considered. Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Rom. v. 18.) It has been shown, that, by the context, the words “all men," in the last clause, are necessarily restrained to all those who belong to Christ, or believe in him; and in just the same manner the word “all,” in this place, is, by the context and the matter treated of, necessarily restrained to all that are Christ's, or believers in him. And they who will not attend to the context, and take these words in their only natural, plain meaning, but run away with the mere sound of a word or two, without considering their connection, only to support a favorite opinion of theirs, will not understand the Scriptures, but remain in darkness.
Our Savior says, “ And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John xii. 32.) It has hence been inferred, with great assurance by some, that every one of the human race will be saved by Christ.
This is the only word which Christ spake when he was on
earth in favor of universal salvation, if this be so; and this had need be very plain, and strongly asserted here, and so that the words cannot possibly be understood in any other sense, to counterbalance all that has been quoted from him, in which the contrary is asserted over and over again in the most plain and unequivocal terms. One design of Christ's coming into the world was to reveal the true character of God — to proclaim the love of God, and his designs of mercy to men, and what would be the issue of all this to mankind. And if his grand design was to save every man, and this were necessary for the full and most glorious display of the divine character, it might have been expected that he would dwell much upon this glorious theme, — the salvation of all, - and set it in a light most clear and incontestable. But the fact is so far from this, that he dwelt abundantly on the future and ever. lasting punishment of the wicked, and set it in the most alarming, dreadful light, representing it by being cast into a furnace of fire, - into a fire that never shall be quenched, where there worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, and dwells long upon it, repeating it again and again. And he leads us to the day of judgment, and represents himself as dooming the wicked, even all who were not friendly to him in this world, to everlasting fire, and concludes by saying, “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment." And he has not left the least hint to caution us against understanding him as asserting the endless punishment of the wicked, nor has he spoken one sentence that any one pretends has the least appearance of a contrary meaning, unless it be this. If, when this is carefully examined, it should appear to assert that every man that ever did or shall exist shall be saved, and · cannot be fairly understood in any other sense, we shall be
thrown into an inextricable plunge by finding a most astonishing inconsistence.
But there will appear no danger of falling into such a difficulty, and an easy and natural sense will be found in these words, consistent with the endless punishment of the wicked, by attending to the following observations:
1. These words of Christ evidently respect the consequence of his crucifixion in this world, and while men are in this life; and it is a forced sense, indeed, to suppose they respect every person that had ever lived, and was then in the unseen world; or that he means to say, that though men live in unbelief through life, he will draw them to himself, and they shall be converted after they die. The words of Christ respecting the same thing serve fully to explain these : “ As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man